11 min read

How to become a SDET?

You can’t continue testing manually, the way that it always had been done when you have an enterprise that’s moving at the speed of light – Jennifer Sepull, former CIO, USAA, Kimberly Clark, American Honda

Organizations and enterprises are evolving at a fast pace. The need for rapid release of products is unprecedented. Software testing as well as software development, form two of the crucial phases in the software development life cycle.

This testing can be conducted in a manual as well as an automated fashion; however, given the shortcomings of manual testing, there is an increasing demand from Automation Testers to write automated checks and consequently of individuals who are able to play the role of a tester as well as a software developer.

Consequently, the demand for Software Development Engineers in Test (SDET) is spiraling at a swift rate and it is important to understand how to become a Software Development Engineer as one opts for this lucrative career opportunity.

In this blog, we will try to answer the question of how to become a Software Development Engineer in Test by understanding a SDET’s Roles and Responsibilities as well as the learning road map of Automation Tester.

What is SDET?

What is SDET

SDET stands for Software Development/Design Engineer in Test. SDET professionals happen to remain engaged, both the development as well as testing of the software. As an Automation Tester, a SDET Roles and Responsibilities include duties of a tester as well as a developer. Thus, the prerequisites to become a SDET include cultivation of skills which enable one to adopt both roles.

These individuals are professionals who are skilled in Software Development as well as Quality Engineering. They not only participate in developing and writing test scripts, but SDET testing also helps in fixing bugs as part of the process. Thus, they help in replacing repetitive manual testing with automated testing, in which capacity they adopt the role of an automation engineer.

The question of how to become a Software Development Engineer is closely tied to why should you consider being an Automation Tester. The traditional division between writing codes and software testing has become unnecessary. This resulted in testers participating in the process of code development right from the initial stage.

These experts are assets for the organizations as they can write as well as test codes. Thus, the future of SDET is one of immense opportunities and fruitful gains.

SDET Roles and Responsibilities

The prerequisites to become a SDET include the nurturance of technical skills which would be suitable for the performance of definite responsibilities which correspond to the position of an Automation Tester.

  • In the capacity of a SDET Engineer
    SDETs possess software engineering skills along with testing ones. Consequently, they happen to be involved in data design, product design as well as user interfaces.
  • In the capacity of an Automation Tester
    A SDET’s Roles and Responsibilities include the automation of as many scenarios as possible. This implies that they are required to build robust and high quality test automation solutions and test scenarios for conducting different types of tests.
  • They act as customer spokesperson
    A Software Development Engineer helps in understanding end user software requirements. They try to do so from the perspective of the customer and since they are involved at every stage of its development, till its final release; they are the best advocate who can justify the need of the software.
  • In the capacity of a designer
    The road map of SDET career includes participation in architectural design discussions and help in providing effective feedback.
  • Linkage
    A SDET Roles and Responsibilities include maintaining technical communication with the partners so that the organization is better able to understand the needs of the customers. On the same note, they are also responsible for investigating customer problems.
  • Functional and Non-Functional testing
    Automation Testers are responsible for testing the functional as well as the non-functional aspect of a product. While testers are generally responsible for testing the functionality of a product; SDETs are responsible for paying attention to such issues as well as the security of the application, the absence of any hacks which could be misused and so on.

Skills Required for becoming an SDET

The prerequisites to become a SDET typically involve an educational qualification entailing a background in computer science or programming, most generally a bachelors degree in computer engineering or a similar field.

The road map of SDET includes acquisition of practical experience through working in quality assurance or software testing as well as development. At the same time, it is important to nurture certain technical as well as non-technical skills which are indispensable for the role of an Automation Tester. In this section, we will look at some of these skills.

Technical/Hard Skills

technical skills of a sdet
  • Understanding the working of the Internet/Web Applications
    The basic route of a SDET Learning Path proceeds with individuals having minimal understanding of how web browsers, applications and the Internet work. This would include having some knowledge of Hosting, Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), Domain Name System (DNS), Application Programming Interface (API), server/client architecture, the OSI model and others, and the way they are a part of the whole software architecture.
  • Knowledge of HTML and CSS
    CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) are considered to be fundamental units of web applications. The elements on a webpage are defined through HTML, while the feel and look of a webpage is constructed through CSS.
    The skills of an Automation Tester also include possessing a basic understanding of the properties and attributes of HTML and CSS.
  • Knowledge of a Programming Languages
    Programming skills include mastering a programming language which helps in mastering one of the core prerequisites to become a SDET and that being the ability to develop websites or product applications. As an individual, you can begin with one programming language which can be used for Automation as well. You should master it in terms of its basics as well as its advanced features, before you wish to move on to another language.
  • Knowledge of Automation Tools
    There are a number of Test Automation Tools available; however, as an effective SDET it would be important for you to choose the right test tools for the right situation. This means that in performance of a SDET’s Roles and Responsibilities, you will be continuously required to learn tools for Automation Testing  such as Selenium, Watir, Lambda Test and so on.
  • Learning SQL
    A SDET’s Roles and Responsibilities entail direct handling of data. These data can be acquired from different sources and SDETs are required to interact and comprehend them. These data may be present in the form of relational databases (SQL) or non-relational databases (NoSQL). Thus, learning SQL helps SDETs in resolving many of the issues which might be associated with data management.
  • Knowledge of the Version Control System
    Source Control Systems or Version Control Systems are simply software tools which help the software team to manage and supervise changes to source code. As an Automation Tester, you will be required to write, review, modify and manage a lot of source code. The Source Control System helps you and your team members to collaborate and work faster.
  • Agile and DevOps Process Management Methodology
    The DevOps and Agile Methodologies have been accepted as essential approaches to the development of software with greater efficiency and in less time. While the purpose of Agile is to derive quick responses from the team on the feedback received through periodic assessments in sprints; the purpose of DevOps is to forge a close link between IT operations and the development team.

Non-Technical/Soft Skills

non-technical skills of a sdet
  • Open Mindset
    As an Automation Tester, it will be important for you to be adaptive. You should be receptive to and willing to learn about the changing technology as well as new scripting languages and automation tools which would help you in undertaking testing.
  • An Inquisitive Bent of Mind
    There cannot be a predetermined chart of a SDET Roles and Responsibilities. At times, they are required to go beyond their assigned activities and dive into the unknown. As an Automation Tester, they should be continuously engaged in thinking of ways for reducing the effort involved in as many tasks as possible through automation.
  • Communication Skills
    The position of a SDET is located somewhere in between a developer and a tester. This means that a SDET is not only responsible for conducting tests, but they are also required to produce test strategies and bug reports. In order to ensure that these are easily understandable. SDETs should possess excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Team Player
    Collaboration is one of the key skills of an individual in the capacity of a SDET. SDETs cannot blindly automate tests. They need to collaborate with other key players like manual testers, developers as well as product owners and business analysts, in order to develop a viable strategy for automation.
  • Time Management and Organization Skills
    Besides being lucrative, a SDET’s job is demanding as well. It is important that an Automation Tester is able to efficiently manage the workload, displays high productivity and has excellent time management skills.
    It is no suprise that a SDET professional happens to exceute an array of responsibilities. If you wish to read more about their professional activities, do read our blog on “SDET Roles and Responsibilities: Making sense of this Professional Position” /blog/sdet-roles-and-responsibilities

Software Development Engineer in Test Learning Path

sdet career pathway

The career road map of SDET can be understood to proceed in a given direction:

1. Junior SDET

Experience level (From fresher to 3 years)

Role: Responsible for creating automation test scripts, participating in bug analysis and writing test cases as well as learning new test automation tools.

2. Senior SDET

Experience level (From 3 to 7 years)

Role: Responsible for working with different test automation frameworks, looking into technical issues and solutions, being involved in software architectural design, being involved in process management, ensuring product scalability, striving for optimum software performance, evolving automation testing strategies, supervising juniors and so on.

3. SDET Manager

Experience level (From 7 to 10 years)

Role: Responsible for working in collaboration with Sr. SDET, the managing team and other departments.

4. Test Architect

Experience level (From 10 to 15 years)

Role: Responsible for designing software architecture, for collaborating with clients as well as for supervising test and development teams for any kind of technical dependencies.

5. Managing Director

Experience level (From 15 years onwards)

Role: Responsible for regulating the operation of business, providing strategic guidance to the management team as well as making sure that the Company achieves its targeted objectives.

Future of SDET

The prospects of aspiring for a Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) are definitely attractive. It is one of the most in-demand jobs within the tech industry as organizations are increasingly looking to hire SDET unicorns who serve as all-rounders by embodying the skills of a developer as well as a tester.

A SDET’s Roles and Responsibilities is definitely a challenging one; however, it does assure profitable returns especially in terms of a handsome compensation package. The average SDET salary in the U.S.A is $117,000. Thus, the range is usually from $90,000 to $140,000.

Additionally, educational qualification, competencies, certifications and years of experience, are also bound to have an impact on the final package that a person receives.

become a successful sdet

Things to Learn

In this blog, we have tried to look at the SDET Learning Path in as simple a manner as possible. You can begin by learning some basic things on the topic. Here are some suggestions:

  • JAVA
  • Automation Solutions and Tools like Selenium/Puppeteer/Cypress
  • Appium for mobile app testing
  • MongoDB/MySQL
  • GIT for Version Management
  • Circle CI/Jenkins for continuous integration
  • BDD for Behavior Data-Driven Testing
  • AWS/Azure for cloud computing
  • Apache/NGINX for server management
  • TestNG as a Test Runner


The position of a SDET is quite an advantageous one. By virtue of possessing the right mixture of developer as well as tester skills, they have become valuable for organizations. They have domain knowledge, participate in software designing, have experience in coding and are customer advocates who are receptive to the expectations of the end-users. As such, SDET career aspirants stand to gain a lot from their job.

It is evident that the demand for SDETs is only going to assume greater proportions in the near future. We, at Syntax Technologies seek to assist you in cultivating skills akin to those of a software developer as well as a tester. Enroll today in our SDET training course.

Like what you read?
Share with your community!

Subscribe to our